As I looked around the room at the women sitting in a large circle, I saw blank facial expressions and averted eyes. It turns out, as we would later learn, the women were expecting us to stand up next to the blackboard and begin “training” them. We did not do that. Instead, we joined their circle and asked them to stand and lead us in a song. We then asked each woman to introduce herself and tell us her favorite type of food (this garnered a lot of giggles). Introductions were followed by a mindfulness exercise, and then the group spent the rest of the training day learning evidenced-based practices for early childhood development and education by doing, playing, practicing, and questioning. Each activity we completed was a first for the majority of the women, if not all.
Today was our third day of training, and I could no longer imagine this same group of women sitting emotionless and quiet. Today, they were engaged, asking questions, playing, laughing, and demonstrating their new knowledge. At the end of the day, after three joyful goodbye songs, I finally had to tell the group no more songs, it was time for me to go—each woman wanted a turn to lead the group in song and dance!
Through our training, we model the exact same type of environment, behavior, and learning that we expect our teachers to carry out in their Little Ripples Ponds— a space where children feel safe to be children and to express themselves, where they have fun and build their imagination, and where they learn by doing and playing.
Tomorrow we wrap up training and select the initial eight women who will be the first to implement and lead the Little Ripples early childhood education program in refugee camp Mile.
Little Ripples is supported by Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund programme, a grant making facility supporting organisations and individuals to identify, nurture and share innovative and scalable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing effective humanitarian assistance.
The HIF is funded by aid from the UK Government and the Directorate General of the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO).
Visit www.elrha.org for more information about Elrha’s work to improve humanitarian outcomes through research, innovation, and partnership.
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